College of The Albemarle (COA) is gearing up for another study abroad trip, this time to Costa Rica. The “Make a Difference: Costa Rica” trip is structured to be what is known as an alternative spring break, during which participants volunteer their time abroad to positively impact the communities visited.
Trip members will visit a local school to donate supplies and learn how rural communities are working to give their children educational opportunities in difficult conditions. In addition, there will be time scheduled to do volunteer work in the communities of Arenal and San José.
Educational experiences are an important part of the trip as well. Students will gain firsthand knowledge of the language, culture, history and ecosystems of Costa Rica. Participants may even elect to earn college credit on the trip by enrolling in a new Cultural Immersion course at the college. This course explores Hispanic culture through intensive study on campus and field experience in a host country.
“The Cultural Immersion class gives our students an amazing opportunity to learn about one of the most progressive cultures in Latin America today,” said Ekaterina Brooks, who is COA’s instructor for the course, an Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages, and the Department Chair for Humanities and Fine Arts. “We will look at various aspects of life in Costa Rica, from its biodiversity and ecotourism to the overall lifestyle of Ticos (Costa Ricans). What is more important, through the lab portion of the course, the students will experience a unique way of life, Pura Vida, living a simple or pure life and being thankful for what you have.”
According to Brian Edwards, COA’s Department Chair of Social Sciences and Study Abroad Coordinator, “Costa Rica offers many opportunities for adventure, such as exploring local rain forests, seeing wildlife and experiencing the beautiful natural landscape. This trip will include kayaking, a visit to hot springs, and even a zip line tour of the forest canopy. All in all, it will be a wonderful location to spend spring break.”
Study abroad trips like this one support a larger initiative at COA called the North Carolina Global Distinction Program (NCGDP). Dr. Dean Roughton, COA’s Dean of Arts and Sciences and Liaison for the NCGDP, said, “Participation in study abroad is one of the cornerstones of the Global Distinction Program, a partnership between COA and UNC Chapel Hill with an emphasis on teaching about global issues.”
This year’s trip will take place April 20 to 27, which is the college’s spring break for the 2018 – 2019 academic year, so students won’t have to miss class to participate. While COA students have first priority, the trip is open to community members as well.
For more information or to inquire about becoming a participant, contact Brian Edwards at 252-335-0821 ext. 2206 or via email at email@example.com.